Transportation and Climate Initiative takes a step forward

February 2020

Keith Goble

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An effort to curb vehicle emissions in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic U.S. has taken a step forward.

The collaborative is made up of 11 states, and the District of Columbia, stretching from Maine to Virginia. The group is studying all truck, rail, air and ship movement through the region.

Referred to as the Transportation and Climate Initiative, the group is working to gradually reduce emissions over a 10-year period. In a recently released memorandum of understanding, the group agreed to move forward with a plan to create a cap on pollution from gas and diesel sales.

The program would require wholesale fuel companies to purchase credits to exceed set pollution allowances. Expected sales to exceed limits could result in billions of dollars going to states in the group.

All revenue raised via the pact would be earmarked for carbon-reducing transportation options.

Implementation of the “cap-and-trade” program is expected to drive up fuel costs for affected consumers as fuel companies try to recover their costs for purchasing credits to exceed pollution limits. The expectation is fuel costs could initially increase anywhere from 5 to 17 cents per gallon in participating states.

Critics say the group is looking to adopt the California method of driving up fuel costs, but on a regional basis.

Advocates hope the public will view the plan as an investment of additional revenue in transit, electric-vehicle charging and other transportation infrastructure.

Each state would be responsible for approving the final regional tax plan.

The state of New Hampshire had been a part of the discussions. Shortly after the announcement was made that the group would move forward with the cap-and-trade approach, Gov. Chris Sununu said his state was backing out of what he described as a “financial boondoggle.”

A final draft agreement, or memorandum of understanding, is expected in the spring following additional input and analysis. At that time, each of the states and D.C. will decide whether to sign the final agreement and participate in the regional program. LL

Keith Goble

Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.